Religion may cure Muslims with mental health issues

Religion may cure Muslims with mental health issues February 12, 2017

That’s the view of Dr Ghazala Mir, above, of Leeds University’s Institute of Health Sciences.
She believes that therapists who have traditionally shied away from involving religion – and often regard it as the cause of mental illnesses – are wrong.
According to the BBC, Mir said:

We know that in Muslim populations people can get quicker results from faith-sensitive therapies that have been tested elsewhere in the world. They tend to use religion as a coping resource more than people in other religious groups.

Mir has helped to create a new treatment, based on an existing form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) called behavioural activation. Following a successful pilot involving 20 patients, it is being provided by the National Health Service via a mental health charity in Leeds.
Patients on the course are asked if faith was part of their life when they were well.
Those who stopped their religious practice because of depression are re-introduced slowly using a self-help booklet, which highlights passages from the Koran that illustrate “even people with strong faith” can become depressed and that it does not mean God is displeased.
Mir claims that Muslims are under-referred for mental health treatment.

Not only is there under-referral but the outcomes for people who do actually get referred are not as good as the general population.

NHS data assessing people seeking psychological help found depression can be more chronic among British Muslims, who tend to have lower rates of improvement.
The NHS has a statutory duty to provide “culturally appropriate” care for its patients, but Mir claims it often struggles to do so.
One patient, referred to as Samia, said her treatment with a traditional therapist “felt like half a journey”, but that when she started to use the new booklet her life began to change.

There are some teachings in here that help me reflect that the Koran actually acknowledges there is depression, there is grief, there is hardship upon you. God is actually giving me those tools. So it really strengthened my Iman, which is my faith.
I’m happy that I can live my life with my religion and that I’ve got the support of teachings from the Koran.

Richard Garland runs the team at the Touchstone Mental Health Charity which is providing the treatment to some of its Muslim clients.
He says several therapists left the initial trial of the treatment for a number of reasons.
Some were worried about imposing religion on clients, others said they did not know enough about Islam, were resistant to the idea of using religion in therapy at all, or felt religion was not a helpful framework for treating depression.
However, Garland claims this type of religiously-centred treatment can help.

What has been produced here is a type of therapy that takes full account of people’s faith, this particular faith, and links it to people’s value framework. So it’s a very practical application of someone’s belief system.

The people behind the treatment say they hope it can be rolled out across the country and be extended to other faith groups.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

"And you miss the point again. Damn you're dumb."

Exorcist plans counter-attack against witches cursing ..."
"He said the ENTIRE Bible was fiction. I pointed out that is untrue. You guys ..."

Exorcist plans counter-attack against witches cursing ..."
"...and distracts attention away from the longstanding insanity of reich-wing Christianity. We'll need a thousand ..."

Exorcist plans counter-attack against witches cursing ..."
"They look like the sort of couple that you just wouldn't want to be stuck ..."

Lights, camera, inaction! Christian bigots won’t ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John

    Do they even consider that religion may be the cause of peoples’ mental illnesses?
    I always perceive people who are strongly imbued with religious beliefs as being clinically insane.
    How else to describe people who believe in the existence of non-existent non-entities?
    Filling their heads with literal non-sense will not help them.

  • Playonwords

    This has been argued for all of the major religions and has only anecdotal evidence to support it

  • AgentCormac

    ‘…“even people with strong faith” can become depressed and that it does not mean God is displeased.’
    What a relief! I’ve spent over half a century needlessly worrying that every time I get a bit down it’s because god is really pissed off with me.

  • Angela_K

    The fact the NHS is in on this woo is dangerous as it provides a foot in the door for other nonsense such as “faith healing. And I expect this psycho-babble will be used on the vulnerable to proselytise. Religious belief is a mental illness because the afflicted believe impossible things, ignore evidence and that some invisible being actually listens to them. It is a delusion.

  • lucy1

    However, and despite agreeing with @angela_K, I think a therapist is more likely to be effective if they start where the client actually is. And if that is Islam, then that is the place. And if the notion of some god or other helps them be more mentally well, than they were, then that is a valid means to an end, maybe.
    The danger is that the client will be better able to function, but only in their faith community, and if their mental distress comes from internal conflict with the views or culture, then this is not going to help one little bit.
    In other words, horses for courses. You can’t leave someone’s religious views out but shouldn’t assume they will help.

  • Eugene T. Bernascone

    When I was a youngster, I went to church every Sunday. I even went to Catechism classes. It was during this time in my life that I started to question as to whether any of this was true. I was disliked by the priests and nuns asking for proof that there was a god or some guy named Jesus. As I became older, I became an atheist. My life has been much richer and happier since I got rid of all the religious crap. Also, the bible is nothing but a book of fairy tales.

  • Not to worry: the Royal Society of Medicine has already suggested that Muslim belief in demon possession is not to be questioned. Better a foolish and false idea be left in place than truth and mental health be promoted.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1181833/

  • L.Long

    She is delusional and convinced a myth is true…who cares what she says about anything!!! She will filter everything thru her karan googles, so it is basically going to be a lie!

  • Matt

    Really dangerous fucking nonsense … as is islam …really dangerous fucking nonesense. This idea is giving the credulous fuckwits of jihad the notion that islam is somehow a legititimate basis for treatment of mental illness whereas in fact it is the root cause of mental illness. Other religions are merely dangerous. Is;lam is by a huge margin the most dangerous pollutant of the human mind.

  • John

    The reality is that this woman is advocating religion as a therapy when we all know it does not work.
    It is wrong for taxpayers to be meeting the cost of this type of so-called therapy when it is a complete waste of money.
    Further, she is only advocating this so-called therapy as a way to gull vulnerable people into sharing her own stupid and illogical religious beliefs.
    In this case, the so-called therapy is contributing towards the problem and not reducing or solving it in any way.

  • StephenJP

    I am with lucy1 on this. We may think that religion is a snare and a delusion, and that it offers nothing to those of us who live in the real world; but if we support the principles of a secular society, we must support the right of people to follow their own religion, and to take comfort and solace from it where they can. And if paying attention to their religion helps restore their mental equilibrium, why should we object? As long as they don’t start trying to impose it on the rest of us…

  • Marcus

    If patients demand faith-based therapies, as is their right, then they should be referred to places that claim remarkable success rates in curing anything from homosexuality to cancer. They are called mosques, churches and synagogues, and there’s certainly no shortage of them.

  • AgentCormac

    @Eugene T. Bernascone
    Glad to have you on our side.

  • John

    To Stephen PJ and Marcus, I say there is simply no objective evidence that religion-based “therapies” work.
    If anything, the available evidence indicates the opposite, i.e. that people afflicted with unnecessary religious mind-programming end up becoming more – not less – depressed and potentially more suicidal.
    While I too support the “No harm” principle, meddling in medical matters by religious amateurs can easily cause far more harm than good.
    On that basis, fake religious “therapies” should not be allowed.

  • Jean Meyer

    To everyone above who claims there is no objective evidence about the effectiveness of religion-sensitive therapies try reading the following : https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/10473958/3426191.pdf?sequence=1
    The message is clear – most rigorous evidence shows that religion is helpful to mental health. Focusing on positive religious teachings rather than those that may provoke guilt or discouragement is also important.
    It’s ironic that comments on this page are making claims to truth on the basis of no evidence at all.Simply claiming something is true is not enough – let’s see some evidence for all the opinion statements on here.

  • Brian Jordan

    The Beeb ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38932954 ) says it’s “showing some individual signs of success”
    The link in the OP says rhe research has been going on since 2012 and is costing 1/3 million quid. Shouldn’t there be some peer-reviewed papers before it’s foisted on the bankrupt NHS? Especially when a more pervasive religion is certain to jump on the bandwagon and multiply costs massively.
    As an aside – how often do we come across such articles fed to an eager press by university PR departments? About once a week?

  • Paul Cook

    There are simple cures for the religious with mental health problems.It is logic, reason and atheism.

  • barriejohn

    Brian Jordan: I couldn’t agree more. Anyone with experience of evangelical Christians would recognize this approach. It didn’t matter how barren a Gospel campaign had been, reports would state “unsaved were present every night” (probably old people suffering from dementia, or the children of believers!); “interest was shown” (they spoke to some people in the local community, possibly their neighbours); “one woman was very concerned about her soul” (and has been for years); “the local community were welcoming” (no eggs were thrown). You can never pin them down, but it’s all going swimmingly, and the results will be seen one day. OF COURSE there will be “some signs of success”, otherwise the supply of funds dries up!

  • John

    To Jean Meyer:
    The “research” you cite is unoriginal and just a cherry-picking exercise, based on so-called “data” from the self-styled World Christian Database.
    To start off with the claim “that 48% of respondents said religion is a “very important” component of their daily lives” immediately rules it out for us in the West.
    You know what they say about research: you always get what you pay for!

  • Lola

    Religion is the mental illness they are seeking to be cured from. It’s the cause of depression and feeling of hopelessness. Leave that lie behind start loving yourselves and life can be beautiful.

  • barriejohn

    John: Well said. I must have missed Jean Meyer’s post, but absolutely no surprise to see that the study to which she links cites one “H. G. Koenig”. Read all about him here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_G._Koenig
    When I was a student (Prof. Aristotle had recently retired), I opted to take an extra sociology course (God knows why), which involved doing a piece of original research. I was a keen evangelical Christian, and my tutor was a bright, young, right-wing firebrand, and I had already worked out that if you chose the right educational sociologists, psychologists and philosophers, their work would always back up your views. Consequently, I did the required research (involving a questionnaire) into the effects of religiosity in schoolchildren , put the results into our computer (you cranked the handle in those days!), and my pre-held views on the positive effects of spirituality were upheld. Bingo! Ever since, I have viewed every piece of research, especially in the fields of education and religion, with extreme suspicion.

  • Eugene T. Bernascone

    To Agent Cormac,
    I’m very happy to be on your side. At least I can gain some truth in what really matters in life, and religion definitely is not one of them. I am free from the slavery of religion.

  • sailor1031

    It is difficult to see how depression caused (supposedly) by loss of faith in one’s delusions can be “cured” by reinforcing those delusions.

  • Great Satan

    So, the taxpayer now has to pay for islamist brainwashing on the NHS.

  • She is just trying to find a way to indoctrinate people.
    She says ,”There are some teachings in here that help me reflect that the Koran actually acknowledges there is depression, there is grief, there is hardship upon you. God is actually giving me those tools. So it really strengthened my Iman, which is my faith.” She knows fine well that in those centuries nobody recognised the existence of depression as an illness. The holy books speak of sadness which is not the same as depression. She will have been corrected by now on her anachronistic reading of the Koran but no doubt she will not listen.

  • Jean Meyer

    It’s actually comical how little people on this site can take in from publications they don’t agree with. Patrick Gormley quotes a patient saying the Quran has helped her and claims ‘she’s trying to indoctrinate people’. Barrie John and John think that a world-renowned Professor and his peer-reviewed systematic reviews of literature promoted by Harvard University publishes unoriginal research that cherry picks studies (suggest you look up the word systematic and try to read past the first paragraph). Also Brian Jordan go back to the website and look more carefully – there are two peer reviewed publications linked to the research, both in a well respected journal
    Some contributors have clearly had negative experiences of religion but just own that people don’t impose your views on everyone else! Also still no evidence being presented for all the sweeping generalisations ….

  • Jean Meyer

    Also Brian Jordan go back to the website and look more carefully – there are two peer reviewed publications linked to the research, both in a well respected journal

  • barriejohn

    Yawn.

  • barriejohn

    Well worth a read, especially by those like myself who have successfully broken free from the shackles of faith:
    https://valerietarico.com/2014/10/31/psychological-harms-of-christianity/
    Of course, we all know that Islam is the perfect religion, so such claims could not possibly apply in its case!

  • Daz

    If the patient already has religious beliefs, and provided those religious beliefs aren’t the cause of their mental health issues, then I don’t see anything wrong with using their beliefs as part of their treatment. In fact ignoring an aspect of their world-view which colours a large of their mental landscape would seem to be counter-productive.

  • Edwin Salter

    Reassuring people with psychological distress that their basic beliefs are true and reinstating the associated behaviours (e.g. prayer if religious) are very likely to make them feel recovered.
    But a problem arises when the beliefs are so nutty and maladapted that interactions with the world result in frustration and failure.
    (If you see but live in a sightless world, expect to be blinded unless you are very careful.)

  • barriejohn

    Daz: I don’t really agree, though the liberal in me would like to. When I was severely depressed and anxious, and suffering from other problems as well (OCD, agoraphobia, etc), I did return to the Brethren for a while, and at first felt a sense of euphoria and really thought that I had put the clock back to happier times and effected a cure. Sadly, this was not the case, and after that failed experiment I ended up in an even worse condition than before. It was only when I finally and irrevocably ditched the bullshit that I really began to recover, and I don’t think my experience is unique by any means.

  • Daz

    Barriejohn, It’s the kind of thing that really needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis, I’d say. With a topic as complex and, let’s face it, little-understood as psychological problems, I’d mistrust claims that such an approach never works as much as I’d distrust claims that it always works.

  • Jean Meyer

    Barriejohn (try to stay awake if you can) there is a big difference between someone using their personal experience to generalise to the rest of the world (as you and the person whose site you have a link to do) and research evidence. I agree that religion can have a negative influence but the evidence shows that this is less likely for someone who internalises religious values and more likely for those who focus on ideas of punishment and feeling abandoned (NB I will now link to a reference for my statement so that you know that it is based on empirical evidence and not the opinion of someone who is uninterested in what the evidence actually shows) : https://www.scopus.com/record/display.uri?eid=2-s2.0-0038694847&origin=inward&txGid=C80E4C250E1288C18AA5441DB437987D.wsnAw8kcdt7IPYLO0V48gA%3a2 (the link will also help you to find out more detail about the evidence behind my statement).
    The lesson for therapists on these two ways of interpreting religion is that religious people with depression are more likely to get better if they focus on teachings that give them hope and help them find meaning in their experience rather than on teachings that feed into feelings of guilt and despair.

  • Jean Meyer

    Daz I completely agree with your well balanced approach

  • barriejohn

    Jean Meyer: It cannot be advantageous for a person suffering from mental illness to be offered a therapy which is based upon them retreating into a fantasy world (which is what religion offers). Any “research” which says otherwise is bollocks. I am wide awake to these facts now, thank goodness, you sarcastic c..t.

  • Jean Meyer

    Tut tut just the level of intellectual input I’ve come to expect from you barriejohn. The sarcasm was a response to your lazy yawn but glad you’ve woken up enough to at least attempt a response. Opinions are not facts by the way

  • barriejohn

    Many of my opinions are based upon experience, both mine and that of others. As I stated previously, much “research” in the area of religion (and many other areas as well) isn’t worth the paper that it is written on, as it ALWAYS confirms the pre-held views of the researcher (what a surprise). You only need to look at the results of political polling over the past few years to see how “reliable” subjective research often is. Religion has enslaved people for centuries, and held back and opposed progress, especially in the scientific field. It has caused untold suffering in the world. It CANNOT be advantageous for mentally ill people – or anyone else for that matter – to be encouraged to retreat from reality and find comfort in a fantasy world, however beneficial that might initially seem. It is no better than stupefying them with tranquillisers (something else of which I have had painful experience), and there will eventually be a price to pay. That is a FACT, not an opinion.
    https://peelslowlynsee.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/1961-01-06-linus-in-bed.jpg

  • Angela_K

    The link posted by Jean Meyer does not work as it requires a login. I suspect the “evidence”to which she refers works on the usual “We already have the answers in our bible or whatever and will make everything else fit”
    Science asks questions that may not be answered.
    Religion has answers that cannot be questioned.

  • barriejohn

    Angela_K: So right. Once upon a time, smoking was promoted for its advantageous effects upon health, and those surveyed attested that it benefited their general health and breathing, and was a pleasurable and calming experience. Sadly, it was all the time giving them lung cancer, but they were unaware of that fact. I see strong parallels with the “beneficial effects” of religious belief, and surveys which back this up.
    http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/smoking-healthy-old-ad.jpg

  • John

    I find the conceptual emphasis on ‘teaching’in Jean Meyer’s comment above instructive.
    This is typical of the “mushroom” (keep them in the dark and feed them shit) approach of didactic authoritarians.
    As a retired educationalist, I always supported an emphasis on self-learning, rather than other-directed ‘teaching’.
    Education – if that is required in any situation – is – or should be – about helping someone to realise their potential. It involves helping the individual to draw out their own potential, at their own pace and skill level.
    It needs differentiation – which can be demanding – rather than a simplistic “one book knows all” approach.
    Teaching may – or may not – contribute towards this self-realisation.
    More often than not, it does not.
    Religious ‘teaching’ achieves the opposite effect.
    Rote learning may sometimes be necessary for small unformed minds but should play much less of a role as the individual should be equipped to seek out real knowledge for themselves.
    However, that approach does contain the very real threat for organised religion that people may actually start to learn things for and by themselves and actually start to think for themselves, untrammeled by religious beliefs.
    After all, do not the Torah/Talmud, Bible and Quran all ‘teach’ that seeking and acquiring original knowledge constitutes so-called “sinful” behaviour?
    The approaches of Jean Meyer and Ghazala Mir are designed to keep people in a permanent state of infatilisation.

  • Jean Meyer

    Barriejohn I think we’ll have to agree to differ about whether robust research evidence carries more weight than your personal opinions. I would point out however that research also draws on numerous people’s experience but in a more reasoned way. Political polling and the advert about smoking you refer to are prediction methods and an advert, not research.
    Angela sorry the link didn’t work try this instead from the same author – it bears no resemblance to your suspicion I promise http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/03/religion-spirituality.aspx
    John an educationalist should hopefully agree that self learning requires some level of instruction – each one of doesn’t have to personally rediscover the human knowledge that has already been built up over the ages. I don’t suppose your students were expected to self learn Einstein’s theory of relativity for example. You suggest that people who choose to learn about religious knowledge for and by themselves however are infantilised – there is an obvious double standard here . I’d certainly like to see more direct quotes from the Bible Torah and Quran about seeking and acquiring original knowledge being sinful

  • Daz

    “I don’t suppose your students were expected to self learn Einstein’s theory of relativity for example.”

    They are, however allowed to question its truthfulness. Indeed, anyone who, when told that 0.999c + c ≠ 1.999c, doesn’t experience some doubt, would seem to be a most strange person.
    On the other hand, the Qur’an, as early as the second page, states that unbelievers will be punished by God. The Bible also is chock full of passages warning that non-belief will lead to punishment, in this life or the next. Deuteronomy 7:3–4 for instance, warns against intermarriage with Canaanites and others because, “they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.”
    And that’s where your analogy fails. Someone who questioned the theory of relativity, or any other theory, and presented well-founded evidence that it was wrong would be thanked and lauded for their work, not quietly ignored at best and threatened with death and hellfire at worst.

  • John

    In response to Jean Meyer:-
    1. ‘Robust research evidence’? You have not produced any.
    2. The APA article contains no verifiable data or facts.
    3. Have you never heard of the myth of Adam and Eve?
    4. I did say earlier ‘Rote learning may sometimes be necessary for small unformed minds.’ What part of that did you not get?

  • barriejohn

    Christ Almighty, what planet does this woman come from?
    I’d certainly like to see more direct quotes from the Bible Torah and Quran about seeking and acquiring original knowledge being sinful.
    “Let no one deceive himself. If any of you thinks he is wise in this age, he should become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.'” (I Cor.3:18-19)
    “Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (I Cor.1: 26-27)
    Both books are full of it. It was drummed into me as a young Christian. We’re wasting our time here.

  • Jean Meyer

    Daz religious teachings have always been questioned and we have free will about whether to accept them or not. What contributors on this site seem to ignore is the right to accept revealed knowledge as well as the right to reject it. There is an obvious difference between knowledge passed on by an All Knowing God and that passed on from humans with limited knowledge to each other. God describes Himself as Truth, Justice, Compassion and Peace so rejecting His guidance involves rejecting what is essential to the wellbeing of individuals and society as a whole. The warnings about punishment in revelation are similar to warnings about rejecting man made systems for preserving social peace and wellbeing. Whether or not you believe in God, people usually support punishing those who cause harm to others through injustice, oppression and fraud. Of course everyone has free will to ignore human or divine warnings but there are consequences that we should be made aware of.

  • Jean Meyer

    John the BBC piece behind all this discussion is based on a robust piece of evidence and a lot of the research on religion and health is also robust. The APA piece is about Kenneth Pargament who has published extensively in peer reviewed journals the link I originally sent unfortunately requires a subscription but you could probably order this book from your local library if you really want to know more https://www.amazon.co.uk/Psychology-Religion-Coping-Research-Practice/dp/1572306645. I doubt APA would promote the work if someone who didn’t present credible evidence though.
    I’m not sure what your other two comments relate to but they may be addressed by the response to Daz above. If you’re implying that Adam and Eve were sinful for gaining original knowledge I don’t agree – their sin was rejecting God’s guidance.

  • Jean Meyer

    John the BBC piece behind all this discussion is based on a robust piece of evidence and a lot of the research on religion and health is also robust. The APA piece is about Kenneth Pargament who has published extensively in peer reviewed journals the link I originally sent unfortunately requires a subscription but you could probably order this book from your local library if you really want to know more https://www.amazon.co.uk/Psychology-Religion-Coping-Research-Practice/dp/1572306645. I doubt APA would promote the work of someone who didn’t present credible evidence though.
    I’m not sure what your other two comments relate to but they may be addressed by the response to Daz above. If you’re implying that Adam and Eve were sinful for gaining original knowledge I don’t agree – their sin was rejecting God’s guidance.

  • Jean Meyer

    Barriejohn please try to be civil. I can see you’ve had a distressing upbringing involving religion but that doesn’t mean everyone who disagrees with your view of religion is wrong. The quotes you have given don’t say anything about sin but do seem to relate to arrogance.
    Anyway I’m glad you have taken the trouble to look up some evidence for your assertions and the general tone of discussion on this site has improved greatly!

  • Daz

    Jebus Effing Christ, Jean. Could you twist that logic a little more please; I want to see what happens when it finally snaps.

    “What contributors on this site seem to ignore is the right to accept revealed knowledge as well as the right to reject it. “

    Nope, no one here would claim you don’t have that right. We merely dispute the veracity of “knowledge” gained in such fashion.

    “Of course everyone has free will to ignore human or divine warnings but there are consequences that we should be made aware of.”

    The “consequences that we should be made aware of” for disbelief are not some kind of naturally caused effect as, for instance, falling into debt if you spend more than you earn would be. They are, allegedly, punishments by God for not believing in him, which, according to the texts, God chooses to inflict. That makes a huge difference morally; the difference between “I warned him that if he wasn’t careful he’d fall off the cliff” and “I warned him that if he wasn’t careful I would push him off the cliff.” If you cannot see the huge moral difference between those two warnings, you are beyond hope.
    (Oh, and please stop telling people to be civil. It’s annoying. You are, in effect, a guest in our house. If you don’t like our manners, either ignore them or fuck off.)

  • Jean Meyer

    Oh dear the tone has deteriorated again, what a shame and just when I thought there was some actual thinking going on. This is a public site so I’m not a guest in your house – it might be annoying that you are being asked to justify your views in a civil manner but that’s what people are encouraged to do in a civilised society. There is clearly a lot of emotion clouding the way you think about religion. Ps Humans also choose to inflict punishment for behaviour that threatens society – people are PUT into prison by other people.

  • John

    Poor Jean Meyer is conflating completely different things again.
    She fails completely to grasp that her non-existent “god” is so stupid as to not know that forbidding Adam and Eve from consuming the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil – according to her mythical books – would not end up in them doing precisely that.
    How stupid could “he” have been?
    Most parents could have told him or Jean Meyer what would probably happen.
    Again her – as she defines “him” – “god” is so allegedly all-knowing that when they hide from him he is unable to see them.
    Her non-existent allegedly all-knowing “god” is equally stupid when it came to knowing that a talking snake [has anyone ever seen one of those?] would persuade Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You couldn’t make such stupidity up!
    The whole story is clearly irrational nonsense but she is so deluded as to be incapable of understanding that.
    She simultaneously believes that her non-existent “god” created only Adam and Eve yet after Cain slew Abel he was forced to go the the Land of Nod to take himself a wife. Where did she come from? Who were her parents, grandparents, great-grand parents, etc.?
    Who “made” them?
    So much for allegedly robust objective knowledge, eh?
    Go on, Jean, keep on keeping us all amused here.
    It is a quiet day, even if it is your so-called “day of rest”.

  • Daz

    “it might be annoying that you are being asked to justify your views in a civil manner but that’s what people are encouraged to do in a civilised society.”

    Y’know, I’ve heard/read people who, in the most “civil” terms, claimed that black people, LGBT people, women, or almost any other sub-set of the human race you could name, are not worthy of equal treatment, are sub-human, or should be killed. And here you are getting upset over some strongly-worded invective. Priorities, Jean—you is doing them wrong.

    “There is clearly a lot of emotion clouding the way you think about religion.”

    For some here, quite probably there is. Speaking for myself, swearing is simply a part of my everyday language, as it is for most adults, and while it may imply a little emphasis here and there, it certainly should not be taken to necessarily imply strong emotion on my part. Frankly, I find you vaguely amusing, if anything. But we digress…

    “Ps Humans also choose to inflict punishment for behaviour that threatens society – people are PUT into prison by other people.”

    Yep they are. And while I can’t be bothered, here, to get into the “punishment/rehabilitation” argument, you’ll note that such sentences are meted out to those who harm society by their actions. Burglary, for instance, causes a demonstrable harm. But disbelief does not cause harm, unless you want to stipulate that the creator of the entire freakin’ universe has a skin as thin as Donald Trump’s .
    Let’s make a law against playing hopscotch. We can’t demonstrate any harm done by playing it, but we will still punish people who do so.
    Who are the morally bad guys in this scenario; people who break that law, or us, who made and enforce it?

  • barriejohn

    Christ alive, it’s Mary fucking Whitehouse!
    Daz: Only power-crazed demagogues say: “Believe this or you die”. God goes one further: “Believe this or I’ll punish you for all eternity”. Anyone who claims to have never seen this in the Bible is either mad or a downright liar.

  • Daz

    Barriejohn, I’ve always maintained that if the god described in the Bible were to exist, it would be an egotistical, power-crazed monster. The fun* part is in observing the twisted logic of those who try to defend it.
    *Yeah, I know, my sense of humour is as twisted as their logic. Ho-hum.

  • Jean Meyer

    Guys, guys you’ve got me all wrong! I’m not remotely upset, not a Christian and unbelievably busy today. Much as I’m enjoying deconstructing your flawed arguments I think we can all agree we probably are on different planets. In summary, you think it’s harmful to believe in God, who you think of as a vindictive old man in the sky. I believe people with depression who think God is Truth, Justice and Peace can be helped through their religion. Happy to call it a day – maybe we’ll see eye to eye in another life 😉

  • Edwin Salter

    I come back to this because I don’t feel it is our finest effort. The title rather misguides. Tolerating someone’s faith as part of their context is not the same as preaching it. There is a consultation running re pharmacists to shift them towards patient beliefs not their own (e.g. re contraception) – NSS supports.
    We have to recognise that in recorded history most people have been religious – and caring/creative/civilised/happy at the same time – they set our norms.
    Therapists will of course tackle clearly damaging beliefs but it isn’t their job to convert the ordinarily religious. I rather think that’s ours.

  • John

    Actually, the pharmacy body has now changed its advice to its members to say that they cannot object to dispensing any legally valid prescriptions.
    I do think the NSS, BHA and many individuals contributed towards this outcome, which I flagged up several years ago at a Conway Hall meeting.

  • John

    Jean Meyer still does not get it.
    Her non-existent entities do not exist.
    That’s all we need to know.
    Her beliefs are utterly irrelevant to the growing majority of world opinion.
    Truly religious people – in my opinion – are, by definition, clinically insane.
    So too is Jean Meyer with her utterly fixed views.
    She has reached her natural point of de-evolution.

  • Jean Meyer

    Dear John
    I am sorry to have to inform you that you have not been successful in your application to convince the world at large about atheism. Feedback on your performance indicates that you are expected to argue your case with reason and logic rather than resorting to personal insults and tautology.
    I am not that sorry that you have been unsuccessful in this occasion but have no doubt that you will keep trying in future, hopefully with a bit more effort.
    Yours sincerely,
    J Meyer
    PS Don’t call us we’ll call you

  • Daz

    “Feedback on your performance indicates that you are expected to argue your case with reason and logic rather than resorting to personal insults and tautology.”

    Back at ya.

  • John

    Dear Ms. Meyer ,
    As a former College Lecturer and Examiner, I know which students do – and do not – make the grade, and you have failed utterly to make it.
    You have signally failed to address the question set; you have quoted sources which are questionable, if not downright dubious; and you have shown no real signs of having learned anything remotely intelligible.
    The only grade you can be awarded is an F for Failure.
    As for Daz’s Psalm 14-1, part of which reads ‘They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.’, the only people I know fitting that description are the legion of clerical child abusers who are reported on this site month after month after month.
    Look at all the reports concerning the antics of Cardinal Pell, dating back – at least – to 2010 on this web site, as well as the more recent royal commission report in Australia http://freethinker.co.uk/2017/02/06/rcc-spokesman-in-tears-over-australian-abuse-revelations/, which led even a senior church spokesman to say ‘These numbers are shocking. They are tragic and they are indefensible.’
    Look at reports concerning Georg Ratzinger, e.g. http://freethinker.co.uk/2016/01/09/hundreds-abused-at-boys-choir-school-run-by-popes-brother/.
    See the report concerning the Catholic abuse movie which won a Best Picture Oscar award at http://freethinker.co.uk/2016/02/29/catholic-abuse-movie-wins-best-picture-oscar-award/.
    The effect of these and many other similar cases is that increasing numbers of people across Europe, Australasia and North America are leaving organised religion as they realise that the people in positions of power in those organisations are rotten to the core.
    You think you are being smart when you side with the child abusers, do you? You simply confirm that you too are verging on being clinically insane, just like them.
    I will not expect either of you to improve with age.
    If anything, you will no doubt go on to prove your essential inhumanity in other ways, which is why you are incapable of becoming humanists.

  • barriejohn

    Edwin Salter:
    Therapists will of course tackle clearly damaging beliefs but it isn’t their job to convert the ordinarily religious.
    I should bloody well hope not. That isn’t their job. But neither is it their job, as Mrs Mir advocates, to “reintroduce” people to religion, or to use religious texts like the Bible or the Koran as part of their therapy, especially when working for the NHS. That is the crux of the matter.

  • Daz

    John, I think you mistook my meaning. I was pointing out to Jean Meyer that the act of “resorting to personal insults” which she chastises us for is a tactic aimed at non-believers which goes right back to the Bible. Unless she’s willing to disavow her holy scripture, she’s engaging in rank hypocrisy.
    That said…

    “You think you are being smart when you side with the child abusers, do you? “

    Unless you can quote Jean Meyer actually condoning child abuse, please could you desist from throwing the accusation around. Not only because it was you, not I nor Jean Meyer who made the link between the psalm and the abusers which you then go on to claim means we are siding with them, which any honest debater would know damn well is a bullshit tactic, but because, frankly, and speaking as a survivor of childhood abuse myself, the use of such accusations—the use of the real suffering by real victims—as little more than providers of opportunities for cheap-shot insinuations of guilt-by-vague-association is extremely insulting to the victims and just as extremely unfair on those you so accuse. There are many, many religious people in this world and the vast majority of them despise child-abusers as much as you and I do. If you actually care about the victims, you should understand that they do not exist merely for you to score anti-theist points in arguments. Save your ire for those who actually commit or enable the crimes.

  • John

    Dear Daz,
    I am sorry if I offended you. That was not my intention.
    I think we both fell prey to the deliberate enigma that is religion.
    The whole point of their pronouncements is that they can be read in a number of ways – all very convenient for the religionists and confusing for others.
    It is just that the wording of the psalm reminded me much more of the vile excesses that religion breeds; in particular, power granted to unscrupulous clerics leaves young people intensely vulnerable to perverts in dresses.
    If I have offended you, please accept my sincere apology.